Call for Papers: ‘Family, Religion, and the Polis: Interaction, Amalgamation, and Transformation’ (King’s College London)

CALL FOR PAPERS

‘Family, Religion, and the Polis: Interaction, Amalgamation, and Transformation’

King’s College London, 29-30 June 2022

 

We would like to invite papers of 20-25 minute length for the conference ‘Family, Religion, and the Polis: Interaction, Amalgamation, and Transformation’ that will be held at King’s College London on 29-30 June 2022. The aim of the conference is to explore how religion brought avenues of interaction between state and group/family in the Greek world from the Late Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. Please find further information below.

In Sophocles’ Antigone the eponymous heroine defies state orders and buries her brother Polynices. Her act of civil disobedience in performing a burial ritual against king Creon’s orders exemplifies an intersection between family ritual and that of the state; Antigone claims that she acted in accordance with divine law rather than man-made law. Sophocles’ Antigone reminds us that the meeting between family ritual and state may not always be a smooth affair. It also addresses the issue that Greek ritual did not only belong in the realm of the state or polis but also the family (genos) and the household (oikos) – as defined by Faraone (2008, 211).

In the Archaic and Classical Greek world family and ‘polis religion’- a term coined by Sourvinou-Inwood (2000a, 19-20; 2000b) – belonged to the same dominion. For instance, while rituals for the dead typically belonged to the family or the private sphere, they were set within the regulations and customs of the polis. Some elite families in Athens that had their own cults and certain religious privileges (e.g. priesthoods) operated within the embedded religion of the polis. Family and civic cult met with cults to Zeus Herkeios and Zeus Ktesios, which could exist at both the domestic and civic level (Boedeker 2008, 233-4; Parker 2008, 204-6). In the Hellenistic period, wealthy elite families, especially in the Aegean and Asia Minor, purchased civic priesthoods for their family members (Parker and Obbink 2000; Wiemer 2003), blurring the lines between family, civic religion, and local politics.

Although, a number of scholars address the topic of religion at the intersection between family and state (Boedeker 2008, 236-9; Faraone 2008, 213-7; Parker 2005, 9-78; 2015, 73-7), and point out how elements of household or family religion extend into the polis cult, (e.g. the cult of Hestia in the Prytaneion [Mikalson 2005, 161]), the topic has not received focused and systematic attention. Most studies, moreover, with the exception of Morgan (2011), focus primarily on Athens and often conflate textual and archaeological materials from various time periods (Garland 1985; 1990; Hamilton 1992; Pomeroy 1997, 67-72; Cole 2004; Mikalson 2005). The seemingly complementary religious sphere of interaction between family and state is often taken for granted, while disregarding platforms of amalgamation, influence, elimination, fusion, and friction between family and state affairs. These studies also neglect periods of socio-political transformation, not only in the Archaic and Classical periods, but also in the early years of the polis, in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, and the Hellenistic period.

The aim of this conference is to explore how religion brought avenues of interaction between state and group/family in the Greek world from the Late Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. The intention is to look at religious practice as part of a greater picture of the relationship between groups/families and the state as evidenced by, but not limited to, burial ritual, cult instigation, site transformation, and ritual practice. Key elements at play could be social, political, and economic. Group competition, elite antagonism, social control and gender/status division, or individual promotion could impact the relationship between state and group/family. Special focus will be placed on continuity and change through the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. The conference welcomes contributions with a focus on textual (literary, epigraphic, papyrological) and/or material evidence in order to discuss how religion highlights places of interaction, amalgamation, transformation, cooperation, and resistance in the relationship between groups/families and state at a local and regional level. Theoretical methodologies that utilise approaches from anthropology and cognitive science in the study of group/family ritual and the state are also welcome.

 

Some topics to consider but not limited to are:

–              The role of groups and families in the ‘creation’ of polis-religion in the transformative early years of the polis in the 8th and 7th centuries BC.

–              What preexists the polis and what is innovative and new in the relationship between family and the polis.

–              Religious authorities and elite families.

–              Genos, oikos, cults, and priesthoods.

–              Law and law courts.

–              How different registers of state policy and family interests were advertised through monuments in their topography and iconography.

–              Shifts and transformations in ritual practices and cult organisation as effected by family/group-state relations.

–              The relationship between state and the family in rituals and cults for the dead.

–              Hero-cults, ancestor-cults, heroisation, and heroic ancestry.

–              The war-dead, oikistes and many other individuals who often received civic rituals and cults (with or without a grave) blurring the boundaries

between the milieu of the family and the state.

–              The appropriation of civic religion in the Hellenistic period by wealthy families (and the new opportunities and dynamics this creates)

–              Hellenistic developments away from the polis.

 

Keynote Speaker: Esther Eidinow

 

The conference will take place at King’s College London on 29-30 June 2022. We invite papers of 20-25 minutes in length followed by 10-15 minutes questions from researchers at any stage of their career. We aim to hold the conference in-person. However, due to the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19, we will make provisions for an online conference if necessary. Please submit an abstract of 250-300 words for consideration to Dr Nicolette Pavlides ([email protected]) by the 30th of September 2021.

 

Works Cited:

Boedeker, D. (2008). ‘Family Matters: Domestic Religion in Classical Greece’, in J. Bodel, and S.M. Olyan (eds.), Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (Malden, MA and Oxford), 229-247.

Cole, S.G. (2004). Landscapes, Gender and Ritual Space. The Ancient Greek Experience (Berkley, CA).

Faraone, C.A. (2008). ‘Household Religion in Ancient Greece’ in in J. Bodel, and S.M. Olyan (eds.), Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (Malden, MA and Oxford), 210-228.

Garland, R. (1985). The Greek Way of Death (London and Ithaca, NY).

Garland, R. (1990). The Greek Way of Life: From Conception to Old Age (London and Ithaca NY).

Hamilton, R. (1992). Choes and Anthesteria: Athenian Iconography and Ritual (Ann Arbor, MI).

Mikalson, J. (2005). Ancient Greek Religion (London).

Morgan, J. (2011). ‘Families and Religion in Classical Greece’, in B. Rawson (ed.), A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Malden, MA and Oxford), 447-464.

Parker, R. and D. Obbink, (2000). ‘Aus der Arbeit der “Inscriptiones Graecae”, 6. Sales of priesthoods on Cos, 1’, Chiron 30, 415-449.

Parker, R. (2005). Polytheism and Society at Athens. (Oxford).

Parker, R. (2008). ‘πατρῷοι θεοί: The Cults of Subgroups and Identity in the Greek World’, in A.H. Rasmussen and S.W. Rasmussen (eds.), Religion and Society:Rituals, Resources and Identity in the Ancient Graeco-Roman World. The BOMOS-Conferences 2002-2005 (Rome), 201-214

Parker, R. (2015). ‘Public and Private’, in R. Raja and J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World (Malden, MA and Oxford), 70-79.

Pomeroy, S.B. (1997). Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece. Representations and Realities (Oxford).

Sourvinou-Inwood, C. (2000a). ‘What is polis religion?’, in R. Buxton (ed.), Oxford Readings in Greek Religion (Oxford), 13-37.

Sourvinou-Inwood, C. (2000b). ‘Further aspects of polis religion’, in R. Buxton (ed.), Oxford Readings in Greek Religion (Oxford), 38-55.

Wiemer, H.-U. (2003). ‘Käufliche Priestertümer im hellenistischen Kos‘, Chiron 33, 264-310.